The Raiders defense got off to a quick start in the team's week 5 matchup against the San Diego Chargers as the team was able to move to 4-1 on the season behind a 34-31 victory.
Despite having breakdowns early in the season, the Raiders defense has allowed just six points in the first quarter all year long and continued their early dominance on Sunday forcing two early turnovers.
Following a bad interception by third-year quarterback Derek Carr, it was newly signed linebacker Perry Riley, Jr. who made the big play first. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers found his veteran tight end Antonio Gates but Riley came from behind and punched the ball out, with safety Reggie Nelson snatching the ball out of the air to give Carr and the offense another possession.
Starting from their own 11-yard line, Carr orchestrated an 87-yard drive that ate up over eight minutes of the clock and got the team a first-and-goal from the Chargers three-yard line. Unfortunately, Carr and the Raiders were unable to punch the ball in and had to settle for a 20-yard field goal from Sebastian Janikowski.
Oakland would get their second turnover of the game as cornerback Sean Smith baited Rivers into a deep throw over the middle, but Smith beat the receiver to the ball to come away with his second interception of the season, returning it 21 yards into Chargers territory.
The Raiders would struggle to move the ball again as they'd settle for a 50-yard field goal try that Janikowski would miss wide right, keeping the lead at just 3-0 after one quarter.
San Diego would be the first team to find the end zone as cornerback David Amerson let receiver Tyrell Williams get behind him for the 29-yard touchdown, early in the second quarter.
The Raiders defense would get their third turnover when Rivers threw a jump ball that rookie safety Karl Joseph came down with to record his first NFL interception.
After a holding call backed them up, the Raiders would have to settle for a 56-yard field goal that cut the Chargers lead to just 10-to-9 heading into the locker room for halftime.
Ken Norton, Jr.'s defense struggled against the tight end once again throughout the game and it continued in the second half when rookie Hunter Henry went uncovered and hauled in a 59-yard pass. Just two plays later, running back Melvin Gordon would go untouched on a screen play to give the Chargers another touchdown.
The Raiders would finally find the endzone on the ensuing drive when Carr found second-year receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper beat the defender and went 64 yards for the first Raiders touchdown.
But the defense couldn't stop Rivers all day, as he answered right back with another touchdown drive of his own led by a 50-yard pass to Williams.
Del Rio has shown he isn't scared to gamble, and he made that decision again when the Raiders faced a 4th and 2 in Chargers territory. Carr dialed up a beautiful ball to his veteran receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone that extended the Raiders lead to 25-24. Del Rio then gambled again, electing to go for two where they succeeded with Cooper coming down with the conversion to give them the three-point lead.
Del Rio's defense would build on the momentum, holding the Chargers to a three-and-out, giving Carr an opportunity to build on their lead after a shanked punt giving them a short field at the end of the third quarter. A couple of plays later, running back Jamize Olawale punched it in from one yard out to give the Raiders the ten-point lead.
But Rivers and the Chargers offense weren't going to go down easy, as the Raiders defense still didn't have an answer. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy watched his team drive down the field in 12 plays, when Rivers found Gates for the four-yard touchdown to bring the lead to 34-to-31 with just over six minutes remaining.
Needing to run some clock out, the Raiders went three-and-out to give the ball back to the Chargers with four minutes left. San Diego quickly drove into field goal range before facing a third and two, but the defense came up with the stop they needed to force a 36-yard field goal try to tie the game. San Diego, who has lost some close games in the weeks past, fumbled the snap and turned the ball over on downs.
With just one San Diego timeout, the Raiders punted the ball back to the Chargers with just 20 seconds left. The Raiders defense held one last time on a last-ditch effort by the Chargers on a lateral play, but the Del Rio's team proved to be victorious as the team improved to 4-1.
The Raiders will remain at home next week as they host the Kansas City Chiefs. The win, along with the Broncos loss, gives the Raiders a share of the AFC West divisional lead.